Thomas Pritchard Rossiter


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Painter. Known especially for historical subjects, he also painted religious works, portraits, and relatively fewer genre subjects. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, where he studied with Nathaniel Jocelyn before opening a portrait studio in 1838. He also worked in Troy, New York, and in New York City prior to departing for Europe in 1840, along with Asher B. Durand, John Casilear, and his longtime friend John Kensett. After visiting London, he settled in Paris for a year, then moved on to Rome. There he made his home for four and a half years, while also traveling throughout Italy as well as into Switzerland and Germany. From 1846 until 1853 he worked in New York. During a subsequent sojourn in Paris, he won a gold medal at the 1855 Exposition Universelle. He returned in 1856 to New York, but in 1860, while retaining his New York studio, he moved to Cold Spring, New York, on the Hudson River. During his years abroad, Rossiter mastered an easily readable realism, which he employed to create the stagy, historically plausible, morally didactic canvases that are his major legacy. Although some depict events of enduring consequence, such as Signing the Constitution of the United States (Fraunces Tavern Museum, New York, 1867), his historical narratives more frequently hinge on anecdote. Such works, including several depicting the domestic life of George Washington, appealed to mid-century interest in the personal virtues of heroic individuals. He died at his Cold Spring home.

Subjects: Art.

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